US 7327312 B1
A privacy enhancement device for electronic device such as a cellular telephone. The privacy enhancement device may include a jammer which may produces false information, e.g. false information indicative of pseudo ranges. In addition, the navigation information used on the position detecting device may be locally stored versions of dynamically changing information. The navigation operation may be carried out using a Web service.
1. A system, comprising:
a portable computer having a processor, an information detection part and a communication part, said portable computer acquiring at least a plurality of items of information that are sensed by said information detection part, and said communication part communicating information indicative of said plurality of items of information to a remote server, and said communication part obtaining current position information, indicative of a user's current position, which position information is based on response from said remote server.
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23. A method, comprising:
acquiring information about a local area, from a client that is located in the local area;
sending the information over a data channel from the client to a remote server;
using the information at the remote server, to determine a position of the local area; and
returning information indicative of the position of the local area, to the client in the local area.
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29. A method comprising:
sensing information about a local area of a local processing element;
transmitting said information to a remote processing element;
in the remote processing element, calculating a position of the local processing element, based on said information, and sending said position to said local processing element; and
in said local processing element, taking an action based on said position, without calculating said position in said local processing element.
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This is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/682,600 filed Sep. 25, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,700,534 which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/690,001, filed Oct. 16, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,473,031.
The present invention defines a system for enhancing privacy in an electronic device with automatic position location detection.
Modern electronic devices often include automatic position location detection technology. For example, the modern cellular phone may include a satellite positioning system such as a GPS device. Other cellular phones, referred to as WAP phones, also automatically keep track of the users position.
The electronic device automatically determines its position. In this embodiment, it does so by communicating with a constellation of global position detecting satellites 130, for automatic determination of position. The electronic device may also communicate with the server 140, such as to a base station. The electronic device may communicate its determined position to the server. This may be done, for example, for emergency purposes. In the case of a WAP device, this may be done simply to monitor the position of the cellular phone. The server may output the position, shown as 150.
The present application defines a device which enhances privacy in such a system. Specifically, the present application teaches a device which selectively prevents the electronic device from transmitting its position. This hence allows selection of an enhanced privacy mode.
These and other aspects of the invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
The first embodiment is shown in
A concern, however, is that some users, either hackers or others with more aura of authority, may use this system in a way which determines position surreptitiously, e.g., even when the button is placed on override. For example, law-enforcement officials might use this system to keep track of someone without their knowledge. One way to do this might be to fake an emergency call or the like. Doing this, however, may have serious privacy implications.
If a manufacturer includes a “back door” into the system, that “back door” might be used to determine the position of a person, without their authority or knowledge.
A test module 250 can be used to test the degree of privacy associated with the electronic device. This test module is connectable to the server 260. It also runs a software layer 255 which can be updated via channel 270, e.g., over the Internet. The test module 250, in operation, communicates with a service over the internet. The service employs experts to research and store the latest and most up-to-date way of improperly obtaining position in such a system. This is available via update 270 from the Internet. This may be carried out as a subscription service, in a similar way to the operations currently done to update virus definitions. The Internet returns ways of hacking the position detection prevention, which can hence be used by the test module to evaluate the privacy provided by the actuation 220.
The test module sends a request for position location to the phone 200, using the best available techniques. The phone returns information, and this information is evaluated by the server 260. Server 260 returns an evaluation of the operation to the test module 250. This can provide a user with an indication of the level of privacy they have obtained.
Another embodiment is shown in
One of the stated uses of GPS in a portable phone is for use in an emergency. When the user dials 911, the GPS device allows the emergency authorities to determine the user's precise location. In order to allow this, the cover can be maintained in place during all operations other than emergencies. During emergencies, the cover can be removed. But once the cover is removed, the position of the electronic device can be automatically detected, as usual.
The system of
Satellite positioning system information is often provided in broad spectrum noise. The jammer 400 may produce broad spectrum noise, which includes information indicative of three satellites, but which is transmitted at a sufficiently low power to be receivable only at a very short range. In the system of
The jammer information can produce outputs that indicate a false location, for example. Similar operations can be carried out with WAP phones. In a WAP phone, for example, the system may override the carrier, or tell the carrier false information about where the phone is located. This may include providing false triangulation information into the system or the like.
An example of the above-discussed jamming and shielding technique is illustrated in
The interface device 510 may be shaped to couple against the phone. For example, the interface device may have inner surfaces 511 which are adapted to be pressed against outer surfaces 501 of the telephone housing. In addition, the device may include a strap 512 which connects across another portion of the telephone housing, to hold the interface device 510 surfaces against the phone surfaces. The interface device 510 may include a shielding function, and may also include a position jamming function that is embodied as electronics within the housing of the interface device 510. The strap itself may also carry out a shielding function; i.e., it may be formed from a metallic material to shield against certain receptions.
The electronics, shown generically as 514, may be powered either from the connector areas 515, or from a replaceable battery 516.
In operation, this system may jam certain communications indicative of the device's location. The global positioning system may for example be a satellite positioning system. These systems, as conventional, may receive contact signals from satellites in which the “pseudoranges” are embedded within noise or other random information within the satellite signal. Hence, the electronics 514 produce false pseudoranges. This false pseudorange information is received by the telephone device 500. The real pseudorange information is received by these devices at relatively low-power. Accordingly, producing even % watt or less of pseudorange information from the jamming device 510 may completely overwhelm the real pseudoranges that are incoming from the satellite. For example, the pseudoranges may be programmed to always indicate specified locations such as the North Pole. As an alternative, the pseudoranges may be randomly selected, with the random values being inserted as fake psuedoranges. The jamming device thus forces the unit to indicate a different location.
In another embodiment, the electronics 514 may include a processor running a specified program. That program may select a pseudorange representing a specified location at random. Then, once the pseudorange is selected, the location being represented by the psuedorange, and thus by the phone, may continually appear to move. This may simulate the user actually moving along a path within the ‘fake’ specified location.
It has been difficult to use such a thin client to carry out navigation assistance in any but the most superficial of ways. In this embodiment, communication over the network may be used to improve this operation.
The positioning information may include information obtained from GPS satellites, and information obtained from other positioning elements such as repeaters and transponders. It may also include other kinds of tracking information such as the Syptech Local Positioning System (Syptech.com). For example, the block generically shown as 605 in
The location of the transponder may be known, or alternatively, the transmission itself may include information indicative of its information.
Environmental information may also be used to provide clues about the specific location of the device 600.
On a thin client such as 600, the operations that can be done using the GPS information is often limited by the limited resources of the thin client. Many such thin clients simply do not include enough memory and/or resources to store all of the map information which may be necessary for navigation over an extended route, for example. For example, a PDA or cell phone might have some fixed small amount of memory, say 8 megabytes. However, navigation or position determination in any desired area may require much more than that limited amount of resources.
Accordingly, in this embodiment, the rough positioning information is used to download positioning information, e.g. map information, over the network connection. Local positioning information is downloaded at specified intervals, e.g., every time the unit moves more than 50 feet. The downloaded information may include additional information in the direction of travel, and instructions to delete or ignore certain information that is not within the direction of travel. Alternatively, an entire new subset of information may be downloaded at any time. In this way, the stored information continually changes as the unit moves. Each new batch of stored information corresponds to a unit of stored information around the current unit position. As the unit moves, the information is continually updated to a new batch of information, centered around the current location.
The local map information is shown as 610, and is received over the network connection as dynamic information, which is stored into the memory 604. This dynamic map information will be later replaced by new map information, indicative of some new area.
Use of dynamically changing positioning information may minimize the amount of local resources which are necessary for navigation. Of course, a core of navigation information may be necessary, which may correspond to very rough information about positioning, as well as location information from previous movements, for example.
In this embodiment, the client may also transmit local “raw” information. The raw information may include information about the environment, from which clues may be derived. These clues may be compared with a database, having a list of clues for the specific areas.
One example of environment information may include the speed of the device. If the user is going faster than a specified amount, (say, faster than 30 miles per hour), then this clue may indicate that the user is on a road, and information from the map may be used to narrow down the current location to a position of such a road. Of course, the specific road must be determined and may be selected from the other clues. Other clues may include time since a GPS fix. Various parameters may affect the ability to obtain a GPS fix. This may include, for example, trees covering the roadway, as well as tunnels. These clues may help narrow down the user's location also.
Other environmental information may include the power and/or type of cellular reception.
The server which receives this information may include a database with information about cellular reception in various areas.
Another form of environmental information may include a database indicating specified types of interference from various environmental factors. Each specified type of interference may have a specified different kind of signature. For example, the hum from a power line may be one kind of signature; noise and/or interference from a train, power generating station, or radio transmitter may represent another kind of signature. The unit may monitor for different kinds of noise, and send information about the noise that is received.
If the client receives cellular or other type information, then information about the different base stations or receivers/transmitters which are communicating with the client may be reported, for example, their ID numbers or other identifying information. The raw amount of received power may also be reported.
To the extent that the thin client is also aware of its surroundings, information from that awareness may also be reported. For example, if the client has a microphone, then various information about the sounds it is hearing may be transmitted. If a camera is present in the client, then information from the camera may be sent. This information may be detailed, that is it may include enough information to determine actual features, or may be very coarse. Coarse information might only indicate the degree of light or dark, and/or information about outlines of specific objects.
The client which is used may be a Web service, for example, or may be via communications with the user's cellular telephone company. In any case, the information may preferably be sent in a specified form type format.
In each of these embodiments, the details about positioning of the thin client may be enhanced by comparison to a database of information about various characteristics. The database may include characteristics as a function of position. A unique combination of certain characteristics may indicate a position unambiguously, especially if coarse positioning from other operations has indicated a rough location.
In another embodiment, this same database may be stored locally, and clues about the environment may be used to enhance determination of position locally.
An advantage of this system is that it determines position using many of the same clues that are used by a human operator who attempts to determine their position. The human operator often looks for familiar landmarks and other items. In a similar way, this system may attempt to determine the current position based on clues which may be analogous to landmarks.
In another embodiment, the positioning operation is only allowed to operate in an emergency. For example, the user may signify an emergency, which turns on all of the different clue-reporting positioning systems that are disclosed herein. This may be done to enhance the user's privacy to the extent possible.
The ability for a thin client to monitor position produces several possible advantages. The embodiment of
In this embodiment, the information may be used as a bookmark. That is, the actuation of the control causes current coordinate information to be stored in the memory. The next actuation retrieves this data from the memory and uses it to navigate or guide the user back to the location.
The later retrieval from the memory is shown by the left flowchart side in
The retrieval bookmark may use the same HG control as shown in
Alternatively, multiple different bookmarks may be stored and labeled by some descriptive information in the memory. In this embodiment, 802 may be replaced by an operation where one of multiple stored items is selected for navigation.
This may have significant advantages when used in an unfamiliar location. For example, a user may store the location of their hotel, and be relatively assured that they will be able to return to the hotel later, using the bookmark function. Pressing the button effectively provides a return path to the location, much like the trail of bread crumbs left in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.
Analogously, this may also be used to guide the user back to their rental car drop-off facility, or to the airport, or to any other location.
In another embodiment, the thin client 600 has Web browsing capability, or more generally has access to a source of information over its network connection. An analogous position control to the HG control that is described above may be used over the Internet as part of the client's reception of information from the Internet network.
For example, the user may find a desired item or location. The user may, for example, find a desired restaurant or hotel from a remotely accessible database. The description of the restaurant or hotel may include a description of the location in a form that can be understood by a navigation device. A position control may be used to enter the address or coordinates of the item as a bookmark to be retrieved later.
Alternative Web uses for the position control may include entry of an address. For example, the address may be entered into the client and later retrieved.
Alternatively, information indicative of a place may be acquired, and used as part of a message. A desired meeting place may be acquired, and translated into a form which can be understood by another positioning device, which can be coordinates or a physical address. A message with a request for meeting as well as coordinates for the meeting may then be transmitted. At the remote end, the coordinates associated with the message may be retrieved and used to control a navigation system.
An alternative embodiment shown in
The graphical selection embodiment may start with the view shown in
In order to facilitate navigation, the user may be provided with landmarks. For example, the user may be shown different cities within the selected area. In
In an embodiment, again the GPS device may store a minimal amount of information in order to facilitate operation on a thin client. Therefore, each time the user executes any of the clicks discussed above, the contents of the click, shown as 922, are sent as a form to a Web service. As above, the form may be in XML format, with specified tags indicating the content and format. In
A pulldown menu having a list of streets and cities are provided as 925. If the user selects the pulldown menu, it provides a list of all the streets within the new map area, shown as 930. The streets may be arranged alphabetically, by distance to the actual selected point, or by some other criteria. This enables the user to select one of those streets.
In the embodiment of
Although only a few embodiments have been disclosed in detail above, other modifications are possible. For example, any different kind of thin computer can be used, such as a phone, or a PDA. While the above describes the use of the information being for navigation, other uses of this kind of information can be used.